Thousands of people and transit cargoes for exportation and importation were yesterday stranded at the Seme and Idiroko borders as the Nigeria security operatives shut the borders.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday said it will join other security, intelligence gathering agencies to conduct a joint border security exercise, code-named “EX-SWIFT RESPONSE”.
According to a press statement by the National Public Relation Officer, NCS, Joseph Attah, the service said the operation is part of measures put in place by the government to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders from smuggling and other nefarious activities.
Apart from the NCS, the other agencies in the joint task include the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies.
The joint exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and will take place in 4 geopolitical zones, namely; South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.
Also, checks at the approved border routes are expected to increase for travelers ostensibly taking advantage of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of persons and goods within West Africa.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that the government is worried that neighbouring countries have allowed their areas to become access points into Nigeria for illegal migration by some suspected criminal elements and shipment of banned or prohibited items that undermine national security and economy.
He said insecurity in some parts of the country has affected agricultural activities and is capable of threatening food production as some farmers have fled their fields due to incessant attacks by suspected foreign bandits and smuggling of rice through the various land borders
Checks by LEADERSHIP showed that the joint exercise had led to the closure of Nigerian borders to human movement, import and export between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
However, a reliable source in the Nigeria Customs Service, Idiroko command confirmed to LEADERSHIP the closure of the border. The source, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press, said vehicular movements in and out of the border have been stopped. Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, the chairman, Association of Nigerian Liscenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) Seme border chapter, Lasis Fanu confirmed the closure of the border.
Fanu, a frontline clearing agent said the exercise had made travelers stranded at the border with everything at standstill.
A clearing agent, Segun Olawin at the Idiroko border also confirmed the development saying business activities at the command has been paralysed. He however charged the federal government to open the border so as to allow transit cargoes and human trapped at the border station access to their destinations.
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